Finally picked up books 3, 4, and 5 (along with 6 through 14) of Swan and am happily diving in deep with it. Even just a few books in, the competition has really been upped a notch as our dancers compete in Russia for both the chance to prove the Japanese have talent and also for a spot in an upcoming Russian revival. All of the rivalries so far have been fair, on the level, but fierce and make each push themselves harder than before. However, they have not leaped into sabotage or foul play which is a easy direction to take such things especially in a series that is as highly melodramatic as Swan is. It is rather amazing how much emotion, suspense, and progress Ariyoshi Kyoko packs into these volumes. Even the tragic downfall of a key player is handled deftly and while Masumi’s fate seems sealed in her future those spinning around her are a different story. Its a beautifully rendered story with some of the most dynamic page layouts I’ve ever encountered. Swan is a highlight of shojo manga that shouldn’t be missed and that I can’t personally put down.
Since I was not doing anything this Labor Day Sunday and Scott kept talking about it, I decided to go see one of Reni’s Japanese “Maid” Shows at Top Tunes. When I got there there was a line to get in and Scott mentionedit was one of the better turn outs. I think being a lazy Sunday before Labor day helped a lot. There was a one drink minimum as a charge which was reasonable, plus Scott and his friend finished off enough drinks that I was covered. Top Tunes itself was distinctly a bar with karaoke as opposed to a karaoke bar so there was a bit of crowding to get up front but nothing unmanageable. Reni sang a mixture of her own songs and anime songs. I got to hear Let Me Be With You from Chobits, Tonari no Totoro from My Neighbor Totoro, and Interstellar Flight from Macross Frontier. Of course she did the Ranka dance because otherwise it would not count. She also did three of her own songs one of which Scott helped write. She also had backup maid dancers for some of her songs which was amusingly odd. Overall it was a pleasant experience, the songs were cute and I got to hear Interstellar Flight which is always great. I definitely would not travel too far to see such a show but anyone in the NYC are might want to give it a look if for nothing else curiosity. I have never been to Akihabara so I don’t know how authentic the experience was but I assume if you went to a similar event in Japan it would be quite the same.